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Carolyn Wonderland Talks to Elwood

ELWOOD
Welcome to the BluesMobile! You are of course Texas through and through. What was the musical environment like when you were coming up?

WONDERLAND
I was lucky enough to sneak into blues bars when I was in high school and they didn’t bother to card me for awhile so I got to go up and listen to folks like Joe Guitar Hughes and Grady Gaines and Trudy Lynn and Little Joe Washington, Screaming Kenny and Jerry Lightfoot, pretty much the who’s who of blues in Houston, Texas at the time.

ELWOOD
What made you decide to relocate to Austin?

WONDERLAND
Sometimes when you stay in a place for awhile you find yourself writing the same song and I decided that maybe I should move and I wasn’t sure where I was gonna go. We were out on the road playing and I ran into Doug Sahm at the High Sierra Festival and he said ya know, you should still go to Austin, it’s the promised land and if it doesn’t work out its just a two hour drive back home. I said yeah you’re right and I moved up there subsequently a couple months later and he was right it’s still the land of free guitar lessons. Austin is like an oasis for musicians because you would think with that many musicians per capita that it would be like a really competitive cutthroat kind of thing but its not. It’s really built this beautiful camaraderie, everyone’s either in each other’s band or you’re at each other’s shows just hollering. I love it I can’t believe I was so lucky to stumble into it.

ELWOOD
You play “What Good Can Drinking Do” A Janis Joplin song. Do you remember the first time you heard her music?

WONDERLAND
It was everywhere where I grew up. I was born in Webster, which ain’t too far off between Houston and the water. So of course I mean everyone loves Janis but growing up in Texas you learn pretty early on that you only sing that stuff in private because nobody can do it any better than she did. But as you get older… you know I really love her and I wanted to do something with those songs. I got to play a show at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a couple years back where they were honoring her and it was just amazing and it was at that moment I decided, man I should really do a song that she wrote. And that one I’ve always dug, I thought it was so fun.

ELWOOD
Do you remember the first blues record you heard or the first blues artist that really opened your eyes to what blues is?

WONDERLAND
I would have to say the first one that really scared me was Blind Willie Johnson and that kinda turned my head around and we still cover a couple of his songs but boy howdy man, that was just the most frightening thing. That voice spun me around when I was a kid.

ELWOOD
What are some of your favorite places to travel in the country and play audience wise?

WONDERLAND
Man all over the place but I’ll tell you festivals I think are really where it’s at because you get a chance to play for kids. I love playing in bars don’t get me wrong and it’s different to have to watch your potty mouth at a festival but there’s something about it. Cause kids they’ll dance if they like it and if they don’t they’ll stick their fingers in their ears and let you know.

ELWOOD
What advice would you give to any young ladies or young men out there that are choosing the path that you chose?

WONDERLAND
I would say go for it. Music is the great reward but \ remember to live really, really cheap, take care of your health, make sure that you sleep and you eat because there will come a time when that is the most valuable commodity you have going on. Really just live cheap and have fun.